L.A. man possibly lured to his death in Manhattan shooting, NYPD says
The Los Angeles man shot to death in a brazen assassination-style attack in New York City might have been lured to his death by the gunman, New York City police said Tuesday.
Brandon Lincoln Woodard, 31, was gunned down Monday on West 58th Street near Columbus Circle about 2 p.m. Police said the assailant -- who has not been captured -- shot Woodard in the back of the head.
The incident has drawn attention from coast to coast. New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly have spoken out on Woodard's death.
In a Tuesday afternoon press conference, Kelly released more details of Woodard's ill-fated trip to New York, which is believed to have begun Sunday when he checked into the Thompson Hotel near Columbus Circle.
Kelly said Woodard did not have a return ticket to California and that investigators still did not know why he was in New York, whom he was visiting, or where he was going when he checked out of the hotel Monday about 1:15 p.m.
Seventeen minutes after Woodard checked out, a Lincoln pulled into a parking space on 58th Street, when Kelly said the shooter got out and pulled up the hood on his jacket. Woodard, meanwhile, was strolling down 58th eastbound and passed the gunman.
"It appears he looks over his shoulder and gets a glimpse of the shooter," but there was so sign of recognition, according to surveillance video," Kelly said.
The shooter "paces back and forth" as Woodard walks on, Kelly said. A few minutes later, Woodard came back up 58th and passed the shooter again — again not appearing to recognize him. After passing Woodard, the gunman turned around and shot him at close range once in the back of the head with a 9-millimeter pistol.
The gunman then fled in a car waiting nearby, Kelly said. The commissioner said it was clear the shooter lay in wait for Woodard on the busy street, which was filled with pedestrians and which is also watched by police surveillance cameras.
"You can characterize it as either being brazen or foolhardy," he said of the decision to kill Woodard in such a public setting.
Kelly said ballistics tests indicated the gun used in the killing was also used in a 2009 non-fatal shooting in Queens.
Woodard has a criminal history dating back to at least 2008, Los Angeles prosecutors said. In February 2008, authorities allege he stole items from a Whole Foods Market and a Gelson's. He was sentenced to nine days in county jail and 200 hours of community service.
In December 2009, he pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor hit-and-run driving charge in Torrance. He received three years and a day in county jail.
Prosecutors said that he came back to court in 2010 and 2011 for probation violation hearings related to arrests for grand theft and battery against a former spouse as well as a spousal battery arrest in January 2012. In April, prosecutors said his probation was completed.
The Los Angeles city attorney's office said there was a hearing related to the September 2010 spousal abuse allegation and noted that a bench warrant had been issued for Woodard's arrest as recently as July 3, 2012. It was not immediately clear how the warrant was resolved.
Court records also indicated that Woodard's mother had been involved in several civil lawsuits related to her real estate business dealings. When Woodard was arrested in January 2012, he listed his occupation as real estate.
Woodard graduated from Loyola Marymount University with a degree in business administration in 2003, and attended two semesters at Whittier Law School from fall 2010 to spring 2011. A Whittier spokeswoman said he did not complete his degree.
Alexis Wiley, 29, of Detroit said she grew up with Woodard in Ladera Heights.
“He’s a really good person, a very smart person, very loving,” Wiley said. “No, no one could’ve ever seen something like this happen. Never.”
— Tina Susman in New York, and Andrew Blankstein, Adolfo Flores and Kate Mather in Los Angeles
Photo: Still frame of alleged shooter and Brandon Lincoln Woodard. Credit: NYPD.